With the 2014 NBA Draft about a month and a half away, I thought now would be a good time to update where all of the potential draftees from this past season’s Syracuse Orange basketball team stand.
Only three players from this year’s team have a shot at being drafted, guard Tyler Ennis, forward Jerami Grant and forward C.J. Fair. I took a look into the mock drafts on CBS Sports, DraftExpress and NBADraft.net and this is what i found for each of these Syracuse players (keep in mind the Draft lottery is not until May 20th, so the order of the top 14 picks is yet to be determined).
The freshman point guard that took the nation by storm this past season is the highest rated Syracuse player in every mock draft that I have seen. DraftExpress has him going 12th, NBADraft.net has him going 16th, CBS’ Gary Parrish has him at 19th and his colleagues Zach Harper and Matt Moore have him going 7th and 8th respectively.
Ennis brings a lot of upside to the table. First and foremost, he has a very high basketball IQ. He does a great job of two things regarding intelligence of the game. The first is controlling tempo, he has a great instinct of when to speed the pace up or slow it down. I would say Ennis plays at his own unique pace which a lot of teams will like because secondly, he is a versatile point guard. He averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game, so there are a lot of things he does well and a plus to go along with that, he doesn’t turn the ball over. Ennis ranked fourth in the ACC with a 3.2 assist/turnover ratio. Not too shabby for a freshman.
I think teams will also like his defensive skills. People may talk about how the 2-3 zone will hurt his defensive progression, but I think the opposite. Ennis led the ACC in steals with 2.1 per game and is very good at anticipating passing lanes. Perfect example to back me up, Michael Carter-Williams, whose work in the zone defense in college translated into 1.9 steals per game in his first NBA season, good enough for sixth best in the league.
Ennis does have some knocks on his game as well. He isn’t the fastest player nor is he the strongest finisher. He is very good off the pick and roll, which teams will like, but when challenged at the rim the 180-pound Ennis might struggle against some big NBA defenders. He also has struggled with his jumper at times. I think inconsistent is the right word because some games he would come out hot and hit a couple of jumpers from inside and outside of the arc, but other games were a mystery. He ended up shooting 41 percent from the field on the season and 35 percent from three, so there is room for improvement there.
The more I look into Ennis, the more I like him for the NBA. He still has room to develop and he will. His intelligence and clutch play are pretty impressive, but he needs to get stronger and more efficient offensively, so hopefully with more talent around him he won’t have to take as many shots and he will be able to get better looks for himself. Like a lot of prospects, I feel like falling to a playoff team wouldn’t be a bad thing for him and he could make an instant impact, but I see him going in the late lottery to the Orlando Magic with their second first round pick as of now.
When Jerami Grant declared to go to the NBA I was a little surprised but not at the same time. This guy is the definition of raw. DraftExpress, NBADraft.net and Harper have him as their 20th pick, while Moore has him going at 16 and Parrish has him as the first pick of the second round.
Like I said, Grant is very raw and there a lot of things he can already do that have impressed NBA scouts. I think his athleticism is something that people can’t help but notice. He can throw down a monster dunk, he can block shots and he can rebound on both ends of the court (led the Orange with 6.8 per game). He has a 7’2.5″ wingspan, which doesn’t hurt either.
The biggest knock on Grant is his jumper. It is a slow release, awkward shot and you rarely see him taking three pointers, catch and shoot shots or off-balance jumpers. He also doesn’t really post up to well on players, something a lot of 6’8″ forwards do in the NBA nowadays. He likes to take defenders off the dribble, which is his strength, but he is out of control at times and has a solid spin move, but goes to it too often, making it somewhat predictable.
Listen, Jerami Grant is a perfect prototype for the NBA. I mean, if you look at him you can tell. His father and uncle both had long careers in the league and if you watched Syracuse basketball his first two seasons, this guy is still growing and improving fast. When I saw him playing in Canada before the season, I was like “who is that guy? Oh, it’s Jerami.” He continues to get stronger as he came into college listed at 200 pounds and now he is at 210, plus even though it isn’t great that jump shot also improved as the season went along. I see him going somewhere in the 2os, to a team that likes to run on the break. His athleticism and rebounding ability would be good for an Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers or Denver Nuggets type style in my opinion.
C.J. Fair, the senior leader of this year’s Syracuse Orange, has noticed his draft stock drop over his senior year. DraftExpress doesn’t have him on their board, NBADraft.net has him at 33rd and Harper and Moore have him at 47th and 59th respectively.
There are a lot of things to like about C.J. Fair. He is an athlete who may seem quiet but if you watch him enough you know he is a competitor. You see both his athleticism and his passion for the game in this dunk from the Maui Invitational, which left him with a bloody face:
He can rebound the basketball and he is a crafty lefty. When he gets going his mid-range game is lethal, which opens up the drive and you can tell by that video he can get to the basket. I do see a lot of negatives in his game, though. I think Fair’s best season was his junior season. This year, he averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 turnovers per game. His junior year he averaged 14.5 points, led the Orange with seven rebounds and turned the ball over just 1.6 times per game. These numbers make look similar, but his junior year he played three less minutes than his senior year and shot 47 percent from the field and from beyond the arc. This season he shot 42.9 and 27.6 percent respectively.
I think Fair can be a solid role player for multiple reasons. Look at that junior season and compare that team to this year’s. Fair had to take a lot of shots for a team that struggled offensively and had the ball in his hands more than he ever had to in his career. In his junior year, Carter-Williams controlled the ball the most, and that let Fair have the ability to feed off of him. Plus, this guy is a gamer. He played in 143 games at Syracuse and played in every game his senior year, averaging 38 minutes per game. I don’t think he will be a star, but his consistency will help guide him through the league if he isn’t the top option on offense.